The Citysnap real estate search portal includes homes for sale and rent in New York City. It also represents the latest chapter in a rivalry between CoStar and Zillow.
After launching into an intense rivalry with Zillow that included accusations of “blackmail,” CoStar officially launched a residential real estate portal Thursday that will take on Zillow in the marketplace.
The new portal, dubbed Citysnap, was first announced last October and is a project CoStar worked on in partnership with the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). It features both for-sale homes and rentals in New York City, and on its website touts itself as “designed by New Yorkers, for New Yorkers.” Listings one Citysnap are taken from REBNY’s Residential Listing Service data feed, which according to a statement from CoStar gives consumers “accurate, up-to-date, and comprehensive listings, arming them with a powerful new tool in the search for both residential rentals and properties for sale.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the front page of Citysnap’s website included a search feature that allowed consumers to select their desired location, as well as tools to narrow searches by price and home size. The search also lets users choose between rentals and homes that are for sale.
Below the search fields, Citysnap’s homepage included a few basic talking points touting the site’s strengths, followed by highlighted new listings broken out by neighborhood.
Users who click on a listing will find photos and other information akin to what other portals include on their listings. However, Citysnap listings also prominently feature a window that invites consumers to contact the listing agent.
CoStar also launched a mobile app version of Citysnap Thursday. Users of the app are first asked to say whether they’re consumers or real estate agents. Agents are then prompted to enter their credentials, while consumers are asked to sign in. However, consumers can also skip the sign in process and immediately begin searching properties — which are spread across all five of New York City’s boroughs.
In a statement Thursday, CoStar founder and CEO Andy Florance said he is “thrilled” that his company is “providing this powerful new tool for real estate agents and brokers to help their clients find the right home in the city.”
“New Yorkers no longer have to rely on out-of-date, inaccurate listing information or be connected to agents and brokers who don’t know anything about the home they are interested in, making a difficult process even harder,” Florance said.
The comment appears to subtly shade the way previously existing portals handle listings in New York, and in doing so fans an ongoing rivalry between Florance’s CoStar and rival Zillow. The rivalry first burst into public view in January 2021 when Florance said during Inman Connect Now that the “residential agent is Zillow’s competitor.”
He went on to argue that Zillow could ultimately “eliminate about 30 percent of Realtor positions.”
Though Florance said at the time that CoStar was “not Zillow’s competitor,” that changed in October when CoStar announced it would soon launch a residential portal of its own. That portal, Citysnap, now competes directly with Zillow’s StreetEasy, which similarly focuses on listings in New York.
Florance has also gradually become more explicit in his critiques of Zillow. Last October, for instance, he likened Zillow’s practices to “blackmail” and, in a very thinly veiled reference to Zillow, suggested there was a company “hijacking” listings and behaving like the mafia.
Such comments sparked a major buzz in the real estate industry. Though many agents partner with Zillow to get leads, the company is also controversial in the agent community. As a result, some industry members welcomed the prospect of a Zillow rival like CoStar, which has large war chest and years of experience (albeit primarily in the commercial real estate space).
Whether Citysnap is now ultimately a hit with with agents and consumers remains to be seen. But features such as the contact window that connects agents and consumers appear to be at least an attempt to steer would-be buyers to the people who have listings.
In Thursday’s statement, Ninve James — REBNY’s senior vice president of residential brokerage services and products — described Citysnap as a “game changer for New York City real estate professionals and consumers alike.”
“It has been a privilege to work with over 500 industry-leading firms and over 12,000 REBNY members to build an innovative search portal that addresses the needs of New York City agents and brokers,” James added, “while also enabling consumers to access the same up-to-date and extensive inventory of listings and data that industry professionals trust and rely on.”